HUD Archives: News Releases


Joseph P. Galvan
(404) 331-5001
For Release
Friday
May 23, 2008

ST. JOHNS COUNTY HOUSING PARTNERHIP RECEIVES REGIONAL ENERGY AWARD FOR ITS HOUSING PROGRAM
Pioneering "Green Building" effort highlighted in Nation's Oldest City

ST. AUGUSTINE - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded the St. Johns Housing Partnership with a Regional Energy Star Award for homes
in its environmentally friendly and energy-efficient Hancock Place subdivision, just two miles from downtown St. Augustine.

"HUD and EPA applaud St. Johns Housing Partnership for its leadership in energy efficiency by bringing EnergyStar products to the population it serves," said EPA Regional Administrator Jimmy Palmer. "EnergyStar products save energy, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prevent pollution and lower energy bills."

The Regional Energy Star Regional Award for Excellence in Energy Efficient Affordable Housing recognizes the exceptional and market-leading contributions made by St. Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP) and their Energy Star Builder-Partner, World Island Builders, to advance energy efficiency in affordable housing by making the use of
ENERGY STAR´┐Ż qualified products, appliances and ENERGY STAR residential construction guidelines a part of its Hancock Place development plan.

"We're really trying to have a positive impact on working families and not have an adverse impact on the environment," said Bill Lazar, executive director of St. Johns Housing Partnership, adding, "The Energy Star program
is an important part of affordability. We wanted our Hancock Place homes to be affordable now and in the future
and the Energy Star certification process encouraged us to make sure that our homes use less energy and are healthier for the occupants."

With homes selling from $150,000, these new St. Johns County homes may look greener this year, and it's not due
to the color of the paint. The St. Augustine-based, non-profit developer, St. Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP),
along with Robert Marshall, President of World Island Builders, have taken a leading role in the community by incorporating "green building" technologies into their new homes. With the slogan, "Green Begins with Energy Star Blue," St. John's Housing Partnership has completed the first Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) green-certified home in St. Johns County and St. Augustine.

On average, the homes in Hancock Place are 30% more energy efficient than a home built to the Florida Energy Efficiency Buildings Code. Given that the energy use for heating and cooling for Hancock Place homes was reduced over 50%, World Island Builders - SJHP's Energy Star Builder-Partner - earned a $2,000 Federal Tax Credit for each home. Homes in Hancock Place are designed as workforce housing (i.e. sold to households earning less than 80% of the areas average median income (AMI)). After passing the credit counseling offered by the SJHP, qualifying households can receive up to 25% of the purchase price in down payment assistance from the Florida Housing
Finance Corporation.

Designed to be both affordable and low maintenance, the Hancock Place primary house plan is a 1280 sq ft, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, concrete block construction which has a Home Energy Rating (HERS) index score of 72. (Energy
Star scores of 85 or lower are considered above average for energy efficiency). The HERS score qualifies the home
for EPA's Energy Star label. The Carrier HVAC equipment has a SEER rating of 14 which is higher than SEER 13 base code; duct mastic was used providing for tight duct work. The air handling unit was inside conditioned space, which
is an excellent feature for energy efficiency and compact fluorescent bulbs were used throughout the homes and appliances are all Energy Star rated. Electric bills are low (Sept 2007 was $80) and, with landscape designed with drought tolerant plants, low volume irrigation keeps water bills to a minimum. Inside, dual flush toilets lead the way
in reducing water usage, with low flow faucets and a water frugal dishwasher.

In addition to this Regional Energy Star Award, the SJHP was the recipient of the 2007 "Outstanding Community-
Wide Florida-Friendly Landscaping" - a statewide awards program that recognizes housing developments
incorporating green-building options to protect water quality and conserve water resources through sustainable Florida-friendly landscaping. The SJHP has also won several awards for their first venture into workforce housing:
2007 Florida Friendly Yards and Neighborhood Community Wide Landscaping, 2007 St. Johns Builders Council Parade
of Homes, 2007 Builder of the Year for St. Johns County.

ENERGY STAR was introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992 as a voluntary market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy efficiency. Today, in partnership
with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Star offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions
to save energy, money, and help protect the environment for future generations. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) joined with EPA and DOE to promote ENERGY STAR through all of its Programs and continues working to expand the use of ENERGY STAR products in assisted and public housing, and in projects financed through other HUD programs, such as Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Programs.

In 2007, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $16 billion on their energy bills and avoided greenhouse
gas emissions equivalent to those of 27 million vehicles. To date, more than 2.5 billion Energy Star-qualified
products have been sold, and nearly 840,000 new homes and 4,000 office buildings, schools, hospitals, and public buildings have earned the Energy Star. Energy Star-qualified products, homes, and buildings provide the quality, features, and personal comfort today's consumers expect. For more information visit: www.energystar.gov or call
toll-free (888) STAR-YES ((888) 782-7937).

###

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities;
creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the
Internet and espanol.hud.gov.

Summary - Hancock Place

The St.Johns Housing Partnership is pioneering Energy Star as the number one brand in affordable housing in St. Augustine, Florida - the Nations Oldest City. The St.Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP) is the developer of the
Hancock Place, 36 homes of single family workforce housing. The SJHP, and Peter Marshall, President of World
Island Builders, their Energy Star builder-partner, wanted to "Go Green" but needed a starting point. The Energy
Star Program's theme Green begins with Energy Star Blue, provided the initial guidance.

Since 1998, the SJHP has focused on the creation and preservation of affordable housing since 1998. Also a weatherization agency from that same year, the SJHP provides energy efficient repairs to low-income homeowners through the DOE weatherization program. The SJHP has taken a leading role in the community by incorporating
green building technologies into Hancock Place. Energy Star is what helps puts the "affordable" back into affordable housing. On average, the homes in Hancock Place are 30% more energy efficient than a home built to the Florida Energy Efficiency Buildings Code. The energy use for heating and cooling was reduced over 50% allowing the Energy Star Builder Partner to earn a $2,000 Federal Tax Credit for each home. From start to finish the homes are
inspected and receive a final Blower Door and Duct test before being registered for the Energy Star label.

The home owners at Hancock Place get a "healthier", more comfortable and durable home that has a lower "cost"
of ownership than a home built to code. All of this while helping the environment. Hancock Place when completed
will avoid over 100,000 pounds of greenhouse gases annually while saving the homeowners nearly $10,000
collectively in utility costs. Hancock Place has received several awards: 2007 Florida Friendly Yards and
Neighborhood Community Wide Landscaping, 2007 St. Johns Builders Council Parade of Homes, and the St. Johns Builder Council's 2007 Builder of the Year for St. Johns County.

Demonstrated Success

The SJHP has provided weatherization improvements to sub-standard housing for ten years with funding and
training provided by the Florida Department of Community Affairs (and DOE) Weatherization Program. This training provided familiarity with both blower door and duct blaster procedures, for indoor air quality and duct sealing. Experience with that program and the associated NEAT software, provided the SJHP with the insight into how to
work with the HERS software and the energy rater to find cost effective "plan changes" to reach our HERS score goals.

The Hancock Place is the first workforce housing effort for the SJHP. A 36 unit subdivision of single family homes designed to be both affordable and "low- maintenance". The first phase of five homes were constructed without Energy Star measures, with the first goal being to get five built and evaluate the cost and production process.
During the second phase, SJHP made a decision to "go green", after the review of the Florida Green Building
Coalition's checklist, we understood "The Green Begins with Energy Star Blue". Energy and water conservation mean both lower cost and maintenance. Our first step was to contact a rater and have the second phase evaluated for energy efficiency. The Energy Star marketing would help with sales in the Community Redevelopment Area where
our homes are located.

The initial task was to determine what measures (and costs) were required to reach the most basic Energy Star rating. The initial valuation was 86. The next step was to reach for a HERS score that would provide the $ 2,000
tax credit for the builder. The builder was willing to split the costs of the retrofitting if he could get the credit. The
critical first step was developing an understanding with the rater, that especially with affordable housing, all
measures must have a cost/benefit approach. Our two criteria were: first- will the suggested measure actually
lower the HERS Score (initial score was 86) and secondly - What are the "big bang for the buck" measures that
might take the score low enough to qualify for the energy tax credit (final scores are between 74 and 68)?

The process began during the 2nd phase of The Hancock Place, a 36 unit single family subdivision. The first stage,
we did not understand rating process. When we began looking into "greening our homes", we realized the first step was energy conservation. With ten homes under construction, the rater came out for the initial inspection and
review. He took the plans, looked at the current progress and came back with some initial recommendations. After
the rater evaluated the current plans, he offered a walkthrough of the current phase to discuss the possibility of retrofitting to Energy Star. The Hancock Place is the first new construction development for the developer, St.
Johns Housing Partnership and the first affordable homes that the builder, World Island Builders, had constructed. Robert Marshall, owner/builder of WIB, is a 15 year veteran of custom home building and had won an Aurora Award
for Energy Efficiency in 1992. As an advocate of local affordable housing efforts, he partnered with the SJHP to create Hancock Place.

Since the SJHP was already committed to providing Energy Star appliances- dishwasher and refrigerator, the first discussion centered on improving the thermal barrier:

  • We used open cell foam in the attic and roof under decking, to seal the entire attic space and eliminate
    some of the other thermal barrier concerns. (Cost $ 3,000) But this reduced the need for R-30 attic
    insulation by $500. Additionally, we were able to reduce the size of the HVAC system from 2 ton to1.5
    tons, but had to add a variable speed motor for better efficiency.

  • Window specifications: Determining which windows needed a better solar coefficient- (there are only seven
    windows). After the rater input different scenarios, it was determined that we needed to change out the
    western facing windows (upgrade cost $ 100- the other windows would be reused in the next phase).

  • HVAC changes: We upgraded to a 14 SEER and downsized the 2-ton HVAC to a 1.5-ton- but had to add
    a variable speed motor for better performance. Cost: $1,000.00

  • Lighting: Swap all lighting to at least have fluorescent light bulbs. (labor and materials- $200)

In the third phase, before construction started- our review proposed the following, to continue qualifying for the
tax credit:

  1. Change roof shingles to a lighter color- no cost

  2. Re-design truss system to allow an open area to construct a chase for the ductwork. This eliminated the
    need for the open cell roof foam. Cost: $700

  3. Change window specifications to lower solar coefficient- $500

  4. Keep the same 14 Seer, 1.5 ton with variable speed motor. The HVAC contractor was able to reduce the
    duct size due to the semi-conditioned space location.

Ten Energy Star homes are currently occupied; ten more are under construction with 11 more planned for early
Spring of 2008.

Institutional Change

The success of grasping the energy star process has made a believer of the SJHP. Not only have we increased our weatherization outreach, but all of our new construction will be both Energy Star and Water Star from here on out. The Energy and Water Star branding have caught the eye of local builders, realtors and lenders. In a recent Parade
of Homes, the Hancock Place was seen as one of the "best buys for the money". The SJHP took first place in the under 1500 sq foot division.

Housing Affordability

The HP homes are all workforce housing, sold to households earning less than 80% of the AMI. The primary house
plan is 1280 sq ft, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, concrete block construction with 14 SEER HVAC units. The purchasers receive down payment of up to 25% of the purchase price ($150,000), from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, after passing the credit counseling offered by the SJHP.

  • The homes are designed to be both affordable and low maintenance. Recent electric bills for the month of September were less than $80.

  • The landscape is designed with drought tolerant plants and low volume irrigation is installed, to keep water
    bills low. Inside, dual flush toilets lead the way in reducing water usage, with low flow faucets and a water
    frugal dishwasher.

The SJHP has won several awards for their first venture into workforce housing : 2007 Florida Friendly Yards and Neighborhood Community Wide Landscaping, 2007 St. Johns Builders Council Parade of Homes, 2007 Builder of the Year for St. Johns County.

Our purchasers have been employees of the National; Guard, the School Board, local construction companies, auto dealerships and small business.

 

 
Content Archived: March 15, 2011